The Ontario Forest Industries Association’s (OFIA) 72nd Annual Meeting celebrated the forest products sector’s role as a sustainable economic engine and employment generator in Ontario’s green economy.

Opening the event, Jamie Lim, President and CEO of the OFIA, explained  ‘by actively choosing Ontario’s renewable forest products, government and citizens are actively participating in our province’s prosperity and supporting one of the ‘best-managed natural resources in the world’.

Provinces across the nation are benefiting from the recovery in Canada’s forest sector. Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Bill Mauro addressed the audience to highlight the benefits of the recovery of Ontario’s forest products sector. Minister Mauro stated, ‘I believe the forestry sector’s performance is critical to the success of Ontario’s economy. Forestry has a long history in our province – it has been a key industry for longer than Ontario has been a province.

The inclusion of forestry in the Ministry’s name is a recognition of the importance of this sector–for my Ministry, our government—and the province as a whole. The addition of forestry is a sign of our government’s commitment to forestry-and an affirmation that supporting the forest industry is an integral part of the ministry’s job.’

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources Kelly Block provided remarks on behalf of the Canadian Government and announced $20.6 million in forest sector innovation to FPinnovations. MP Kelly Block stated ‘Canada is a forest nation. In 2013, the forest sector accounted for close to $20 billion of our nation’s nominal Gross Domestic Product- including more than $4 billion in revenues here in Ontario. Indeed, forestry ranks as this province’s second-largest industrial sector.’

Andre Chevigny, General Manager of Pioneer Log Homes and star of HGTV’s Timber Kings was the Keynote speaker at this year’s event and provided a well-received heartfelt address about the importance of following your passion. A man very obviously passionate about working with wood, Andre stated ‘That’s my message, follow your passion. Do work you are proud of and be proud of your work. Tell the rest of the world that what we do in the forest industry, they can’t do without. Wood is the right choice environmentally, socially, and economically. Thank you OFIA.’

OFIA’S Forest Sector Champion Awards are given to those who work to support the forestry sector. This year, the OFIA awarded Forest Sector Champion Awards to:

• Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Policy Team for their support of Ontario’s sector in their 2015 Emerging Stronger policy document.

• John Pineau, Ontario Lead for FPinnovations, in recognition of his years of dedicated service to forestry

• Richard Hudon, CLA Chief Inspector in recognition of 31 years of service

Municipal Government was well represented at OFIA’s 72″d Annual Meeting with over a dozen mayors and councillors from across the province in attendance.

• Mayor Canfield from Kenora addressed the audience providing a view from the north on Ontario’s renewable natural resource- forestry.

• Mayor Steve Black from Timmins was a panelist on the Forestry Matters – Planning for Generations Panel

Christine Leduc, OFIA’s Director of Policy and Communications closed the afternoon session by saying, ‘the beautiful aspect of forestry is that you don’t have to choose between the environment and the economy. So many people are involved in making Ontario’s forest sector’